MASAKA — The Masaka Chief magistrate’s court has ordered a partial election recount following vote-rigging complaints from the Kalungu East Member of Parliament, Vincent Ssempija.
Ssempijja who is the Agriculture Minister was last week trounced by National Unity Platform’s Francis Katabazi Katongole.
Minister Ssempijja alleged fraud and filed by an application for a vote recount on grounds that the vote counting and tallying exercise were marred by irregularities.
He sued the Kalungu District Returning Officer, Ann Namatovu and the MP-elect Francis Katabazi Katongole and the Electoral Commission for robbing him of his victory.
On Monday, Masaka Chief Magistrate Charles Yeteise heard that the vote tallying exercise was filled with gross irregularities with reports that that some polling agents were ejected from the polling stations before the tallying exercise was conducted.
Ssempijja through his lawyers led by Geoffrey Kandebe told the court that the same thing happened at about 25 polling stations, which gave a chance to Katabazi’s polling agents and officials to mismatch the votes and hence robbed him of his victory.
He asked court to grant his prayers for a vote recount to ascertain the exact number of votes he lost through this process because there was no sufficient display of ballots during the tallying exercise.
“In several polling stations in the constituency many of the results declaration forms were not signed, which justifies why the recount should be granted to end this doubt,” Kandebe told the magistrate. In his submission the Electoral Commission lawyer, Eric Ssbiti told the court that the election exercise was free, fair and peaceful; saying the agents of all the candidates including those of the petitioner signed the declaration forms without hesitation.
“We don’t have anything to hide from the court and public and if court orders for a recount we shall accept and deliver materials to the court because the polling material and boxes holding DR forms are in good custody,” he said.
Katabazi’s lawyers, led by Chrysostome Katumba told the court that the allegations by Ssempijjas lawyers that his agents did not sign the DR forms is false since the forms on-court record are clearly signed and no complaint was raised during the counting or tallying exercise on the polling day.